How to Become a “Smart Tennis Player”
When I was 12, my father told me that I should be able to beat him at tennis by the age of 14. I only managed to win against him by the age of 18…
Now, don’t get me wrong – it is not because I was not trying or because he was that good. In fact, he would have health-related problems (sore knees, etc.) and STILL manage to beat me. And that frustrated me badly! I didn’t understand how an older man, who was barely able to move to the ball, could still beat me!
Nowadays, as a tennis coach and “older” player, I find myself looking back on those moments and can understand why I couldn’t beat my father…
Tennis is like life – the smarter the decisions you make, the better your life is going to be. My father was better at winning matches against me because he would outsmart me on the court (and off). He knew that he could not run with me on the court and chase every ball that I would throw at him so he had to make smarter decisions in order to win.
Every ball he hit was a calculated move. Every serve was thought out as far as placement and spin. Before starting the point, he knew ahead of time what he was going to do to win it… sometimes adjusting to find the right tactic in certain situations.
How do I know that? Because now, I am the “older” player. I am playing with students and they are as young as I used to be when I was playing with my father.
For me, to win against my students, I have to outsmart them. Otherwise, I would be running all over the court having to deal with strokes that are at times more powerful than mine.
I want my students to see tennis the way I see it now: like an “older” player. I want them to combine their flexibility, speed, and stamina with the power of seeing winning tactics through an “older” player’s eyes.
Some players are natural at that. Very rarely. Those are the true champions that often end up being seen on TV or at high-level competitions. But most of them still get frustrated by the lack of understanding of what it takes to be a winner.
OK, by now you should be asking: “So how can a young player think like an “older” one?” The answer lies in the power and quality of QUESTIONS!
I encourage my students to consistently ask themselves good, quality questions: “How can I beat my opponent?” “What is my opponent’s weakness?” “What can I do to be more consistent?” “How can I hit more first serves in?” and so on…
Good questions give us good answers. If we ask positive questions, we will find positive answers. Positive answers will translate into positive actions. Positive actions will produce positive results…
So you see, it all comes down to what we want! Do you miss a ball and dwell on how bad your stroke was and what a terrible mistake you made? Then that is what your brain will be preoccupied with.
On the other hand, if after missing a shot, you ask yourself how can you make it better next time, you will get answers on how to perform better. That kind of thinking is what winners/champions have.
I guarantee you that changing the way you think will immensely affect your life and everything you want to be successful at.
Ask positive questions and you will get positive results!
Certified Tennis Coach
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